|Flygirl taking a rod for a spin at the Grand River Spey clave, Paris, Ontario.|
Well, I'm happy to report, flygirl mission accomplished! I found my "One"— it's the new 13-foot, 7/8 weight G. Loomis NRX two hander. Damn! Did it have to be one of the most expensive spey rods made in the USA? Why couldn't I have fallen for the Echo 3 which is a fine rod (and $600 less!)? So, is the NRX 1567/8-4 two hander twice the rod of its brethen?
Earlier this spring, I cast numerous singlehand rods before my first bonefish trip and concluded that the middle tier rods were the way to go. The price you pay for the top end models just didn't seem worth it to me. Sure, they're generally lighter, their components higher quality and possibly more durable. But you're also paying for fancy faux burl inlay in the reel seat or other such nonsense. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate a good looking rod as much as the next flygirl ;). But to me, a fly rod is first and foremost a tool, a means to an end—catching fish—and a good caster can pick up any decent stick and work some magic.
The key word is decent—there is a minimum threshold of acceptability (of castability). I cast one lower end stick (around $300) that had received good online reviews. But I would never use that rod even if it was given to me for free. It felt like casting a brittle, hollow tube of plastic. Ugh! It should at least be a pleasant experience (if not joyous :). So, middle tier rods are the smart way to go…
Then why in heaven's name am I about to spend $1,130 on a fishing pole? For some inexplicable reason, my first spey rod is an emotional purchase. Flygirl logic is thrown out the window! I think it's because the perfect combination of rod, line, and caster in the two-hand world is equivalent to all the planets in the universe aligning ;). There's a mystique about it... It's an event to be celebrated!
I think it was just meant to be. It turned out that Mike Verhoef, one of the presenters at the clave, brought along the only NRX 7/8 doublehander in eastern Canada (or so he said :). I took a few casts and the rest is history. Seriously, it was love at first cast. Incredibly light and nimble, a lethal combination of power and finesse. It felt effortless to cast, perfectly lined with a 480 grain Scientific Anglers Extreme Scandi head and sharkskin shooting line. I didn't want to let it out of my hands...
Afterwards, I rushed to find my pal, easterncaster, and tell him the good news—I had found MY perfect spey ROD! I was curious what he would think of it. He cast it the following day. His reaction was that it was one of the best rods he has ever cast. I guess it's not just my perfect rod.
|A perfectly curvaceous D-loop courtesy of the easterncaster on the River Grand.|
|Very lady-like form. Note the properly extended pinky ;).|
|Who needs a fly rod? Not Tim Rajeff. Tim casting a fly line with his bare hands. Nice loop!|
|Mike Barrand demonstrating the |
Scandinavian style of spey casting.
Another highlight was meeting Bill Drury and casting one of his prototype switch lines (31 grams) which paired perfectly with the Sage One 11'6", 7-weight switch rod. Very sweet! Craig was casting with Bill. He waved me over and introduced us. The only possible improvement in the overall experience would have been him wearing a kilt instead of the standard boring beige waders ;). I had joked with the easterncaster after borrowing his DVD, The Art of Spey Casting, that the best part was watching the 2 hunky Scotsmen spey cast in kilts. Now, I'm a bit mortified that Craig actually mentioned my appreciation of the Scottish kilt wearing tradition to Bill. Mr. Drury is a lovely man and I have a new found admiration for his lines. His supple switch line flew through the One's guides like silk and having the line's load indicator as a visual and tactile marker inside the rod's guides by the caster's hands is ingenious. I plan on purchasing a version for my 8-weight switch rod when they're available.
|Get your Sage Ones here!|
Craig noticed I had broken down my switch rod and asked if I was done fishing. I told him about my line. He stopped fishing and walked back upstream with me to see if we could find it. I led him to the spot. He just walked right into the middle of the river and found my line. Actually he almost tripped over it :). Apparently it was snagged on a chunk of metal debris. I guess being 8 inches taller and 80 pounds heavier has it's advantages. Thank you, easterncaster, for rescuing my line!
The following day Craig and I stopped to fish the Niagara River on our way back. We had stopped there briefly on our drive up to Paris but had less than 2 hours to fish. This time, we had a good 5. We decided to fish our way down from Whirlpool park to Devil's Hole. The lower Niagara, in terms of volume, makes the Deschutes feel like a spring creek ;). It's seriously BIG water and absolutely breathtaking. It's a hike down and back up (they say 300 steps) but it's good exercise and helps keep the heavy beer drinking crowd away.
|View of the Whirlpool from up top, Niagara River, NY|
|A contemplative eastercaster at Devil's Hole.|
After almost 5 straight hours of heavy duty hiking, scrambling, and improvisational fishing (on empty stomachs!) we called it a day and hiked the 300 steps back out of the beautiful Niagara gorge. I'll definitely be back...
|Devil's Hole, lower Niagara River, NY|